HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council's budget committee has approved planning and design funding for a multi-story parking structure for the Honolulu Zoo. But opponents say there are already some legal roadblocks that could prevent the structure from being built.
"Many people want to enjoy Kapiolani Park, they want to enjoy the zoo, but they go home because there's no place to park," said council Budget Chairwoman Ann Kobayashi.
But the lot is popular not just with park users and zoo-goers.
"They can't find a place to park because hotel employees and guests and people walking to Waikiki love this parking lot as something that's inexpensive," said Michelle Matson of the Oahu Island Parks Conservancy.
The committee approved $500,000 in the budget for the coming fiscal year to plan and design the parking structure on the site of the current zoo lot. Kobayashi says it's a way to increase revenue for the zoo by providing ample parking for zoo and park visitors.
"We do hope that we can have it for the zoo and then the revenues go to the zoo, but if anyone wants to park there also, we'll probably just charge the normal city rates," she said.
"What they are proposing is a multi-level garage in a registered historic landscape that is protected by a public charitable trust," said Matson, who added that it could be enough to prevent such a structure from being built, much less even considered.
And then there are the trees that line the current lot.
"We don't need to tear down something that's beautiful and green," said Winston Welch, executive director of The Outdoor Circle. "And (it's) probably going to be challenged by court order that says this is illegal and you can't do it anyway. So we're wasting $500,000 even on a study of building a parking lot. It doesn't seem like the best use of money."
The full council is the next stop for the budget proposal, which is set to take effect July 1.